Film Club Discussion: Another Earth


On the same night that an identical Earth appears in the night sky, a seventeen-year-old girl named Rhoda drinks too much and slams into another car, killing a college professor’s wife and child, and leaving him in a coma. Four years later, she is released from prison, and John is now living alone, depressed and bitter, and no longer working. When the young woman visits him, intending to confess and apologize, she loses her nerve and instead tells him that she’s there to clean his house. Over the course of the next several months, the two begin an unlikely relationship, both beginning to heal from the past. In the meantime, the residents of Earth become fascinated with Earth 2. The young woman enters an essay contest, hoping to win a coveted ticket to visit the new planet.

This movie got off to a slow start for me, but after twenty minutes or so, I found myself engrossed. The style is minimalist, with not a lot of music or dialogue, but the acting is superb. It was amazing to see William Mapother, who will always be Creepy Ethan from Lost in my head, play a sympathetic character. He’s so good at playing evil and weird, but he has a stunning range, and his performance in this film is amazing. Brit Marling, who plays the young woman, is a new actor to me, and she has some of the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. Both of these actors gave brilliantly nuanced performances as characters that had a minimum of dialogue.

What I find the most interesting is that the screenwriter chose to write such a character-driven drama against the backdrop of this amazing scientific discovery. Typically, science fiction movies are all about the science, the setting, and the action – aliens, space ships, futuristic scenery and costumes. In this film, the characters drive the movie, and their story just happens to coincide with what is happening in the sky.

My favorite scene, by far, is when John takes Rhoda to the theater and performs for her on his saw. I had no idea that a saw could produce such other-worldy sounds, and the juxtaposition of his music with Rhoda’s thoughts of traveling to Earth 2 was simply beautiful.

I really want to talk about the ending, though. I knew what Rhoda was going to do when she went to visit John at the end, that she would offer him her ticket so that he could go see if the other wife and child still lived on Earth 2. But the very ending….when Rhoda 2 shows up….I was baffled. I really don’t know what it means. Any ideas?

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9 Responses to Film Club Discussion: Another Earth

  1. ha ha ha I know what you mean about creepy Ethan, I kept expecting him to be creepy in this movie, too!! And her whole relationship with him, while totally understandable was also like…IDK I was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU KILLED HIS FAMILY and I just knew it was going to end terribly so it was the mounting tension…or the build to the inevitable made me super uncomfortable while watching.

    I agree about how amazing it is that they did this super character driven story with the backdrop of such an intriguing science fiction story line.

    I had Really Deep Thoughts on the end when I first watched, but ugh I can’t remember them. But basically, the theory that the two lives diverged once the two earths became aware of each other meant that that on the other earth the accident hadn’t happened. So basically Rhoda seeing her other self as this super accomplished girl was sort of Rhoda seeing that she was more than what her life had become so to say. That there truly had been infinite possibilities for her life, and in giving Ethan her ticket and through that friendship, she had come to a point where she could discover the other parts of who she was.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Amy – I like your Super Deep Thoughts! :) It makes sense. I was honestly so baffled that I couldn’t put a coherent thought together.

      I totally agree about the tension – waiting for her to reveal to him who she was. They did a great job depicting that. The funny thing is, I watched the whole movie, at times literally saying, “You’ve got to tell him!” and then when I finally got to the scene where she’s about to tell him, the phone rings, and my 14-year-old son needed me to pick him up from drama practice at church. So I had to leave with literally ten minutes left in the film! Argh. Talk about tension!

  2. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    Now I feel like I need to rewatch the end of this movie. I don’t remember the other Rhoda!!?? Arghhhh!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – It was the very end scene, after she saw the news report in which John is interviewed about his training. She walks home and Rhoda 2 is waiting at her house, dressed in a black business suit.

  3. Saw Lady
    Twitter: SawLady
    says:

    Thank you for your kind words about the musical saw scene – I am very glad you liked it!
    The music & video clip of this scene are on the composer’s website http://www.scottmunsonmusic.com/news/music-in-film-another-earth-soundtrack/
    I know this because I’m the one who played the saw on the soundtrack :) (This is me http://youtu.be/lPvTTc7jAVQ )

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Natalia – thank you so much for commenting! I watched your video and also the video in which you tell your amazing story. I had never heard a musical saw before, and the sound is so other-worldly and angelic – I love it. :)

  4. Stephanie
    Twitter: qbibliophile
    says:

    I’ve only seen William Mapother in two roles — Ethan in Lost and a murderous ex-husband in In the Bedroom. It would be great to see him playing someone you wouldn’t be afraid to be in the same room with. ;-) This movie sounds like a wonderful blend of drama and sci-fi, which is right up my alley. Thanks!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Stephanie – you’re welcome – I hope you get a chance to watch it.

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